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Sunday, November 28, 2010

••◊ Stop Motion using the Pentax K5

Time between projects typically means testing out new gear. Clarence, of course, couldn't help but indulge in a shiny new Pentax K5 as soon as it became available in the U.S. We headed out to Shelter Island on San Diego bay this afternoon to try out the low light capability and the interval shooting function of the camera. I brought my 5Dm2 along as well, but since the Canon cameras don't have built in interval shooting I wasn't able to do any stop motion photography. However...I was able to grab this frame of the sail boat in near pitch black darkness using a long exposure. When blown up to proper size you can even see the stars behind the city. Cameras now days are truly amazing.

We were able to capture the city scape at stop motion intervals using the K5, but frankly it was uncompelling except for a cruise ship leaving the terminal and a few plane taxiing in and out of Lindbergh field. So we strapped his tripod to the back seat using a series of bungee cords and set the camera on interval mode while driving through the city. One really nice feature of the Pentax cameras is the built in image stabilization, which went into full use since the San Diego city streets look like Edward James Olmos' face. At the beginning of the Flickr video you can see where we stopped because Clarence forgot to set the focus to manual and the camera was actually re-focusing every shot automatically...in interval mode!

Friday, November 26, 2010

••◊ Happy Thanksgiving

For the last few years I've been adopted into the Nasworthy family during Thanksgiving Day. So what am I grateful for at Thanksgiving besides pumpkin pie?...having friends that take me in like family...my brutha' in photographic crime, Clarence...hope for new opportunities in the new year...my one and only mother - even though I'm a bad son and don't call her enough. Gratuitous pictures of the feast follow.

Finally, a quick family portrait of the Nasworthy clan from yesterday - before dinner - had to be quick because that pumpkin pie was waiting for me! I swear I heard the pie actually say in a dark brooding voice, "Come; Eat me." Left to right: Jimmy, Berenicia, Garret, Val, G.ma Fanning, G.pa Fanning, Kelsey, Cameron, Frank, Beryl, a.k.a. Crash, Brandon, Rachel, Chase, and John. ...and yes, despite the look this is November in San Diego.

Better go call my poor mother, after all she's the one who purposely placed a refrigerator magnet that says, "Call you mother. She worries."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

••◊ Web tablets - They do have a use after all.

By way of my day job I picked up an HP eStation printer a few weeks ago, which just happens to come with an Android web pad ("Zeen") as the printer's control panel! Obviously the play here is to get people to print from the web, but as a photographer and cinematographer I'm finally finding out what all the iPad tablet religion is about since the HP device shares many of the same core capabilities. After all, who really need yet another device with a web browser and the ability to play Angry Birds? ...Yes, the HP web pad plays Angry Birds too, but it properly prints just about anything from the web.

In my particular case I was able to take the tablet to a client this week and review some example inspirational pictures before her shoot. Instead of just using words we were able to share a banter back and forth using a hundred images and she clearly told me what she wanted. I could watch her facial expression and eyes to see how she responded to each image...much more powerful than a business conversation with precariously vague descriptions flying around the room. Well known creatives such as Vincent Laforet and Stu Maschwitz have blogged in the past about using an iPad as an collaboration tool with client. I'm slow, but finally catching on.

Another useful feature is while I'm at a client's location I can say..."oh, by the way we shoot video too. Wanna see?" Normally I would have to send them to this blog and they would have to use the left navigation pane to link to the videos. Now I can just say..."oh, by the way we shoot video" and have it playing before they can give me that disdainful look of, "are you really going to make me dig for your video online when I have more important (i.e. interesting) things to do."

All the media is stored an an SD card, so it's just a matter of rendering the pictures out at 800 pixels wide. Same for the video, but the main codec seems to be MPEG-4 (no Quicktime wrappers please) at 2Mbit/s. I believe Microsoft's WMV codec is supported too up to 720p. Unless you're a techie, no one really cares what codec you render too, so I just stick with a straight-up MP4.

Battery life seems to be OK, as I left the eStation tablet (a.k.a. "Zeen") on for half a day at the shoot with Izar a couple weeks ago. It still had battery life to burn.

What's next...making me get a cell phone? Let's not get all crazy here.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

••◊ Going French in Hope-wood

Clarence and I took a leave from work Friday to go visit our friend and starlet in Hollywood, Hope Rosemary. Camera gear in tow we were intending to mostly take pictures of Hope, but at the last minute her French room mate decided to join us...

This time I decided to use Patrick Demarchelier, a French fashion photographer, as an stylistic influence. His style seemed appropriate for what we were trying to do and not really have a style of my own, I'm open to new influences. Patrick seems to use wide angle lenses ( less than 50mm) and interesting perspectives. Unfortunately the apartment complex we were at only offered selective slices of photographic paradise, so I had to use tighter shots than I might have liked at first. However, I was able to review a few of his photographs on set and use stylistic elements as an influence for the shots I wanted to achieve.

First up are two shots in the same stairwell. I used a beauty dish at camera left. I also used a strobe bunched up next to the lens as an on axis fill since the shade was f/2.8 and the sun was still baking at f/16. This helped even out the contrast and avoid harsh shadows.

In these two shots I also used a beauty dish, but the pool shot used the rim of the beauty dish as a rainbow shaped framing device. In this case my friend David was my voice activated light stand at the other side of the pool. The last picture was just a beauty dish at camera right with an on axis fill since we were under a covered area pool side. Usually I like to keep the on axis fill at 2 to 3 stops below key, depending on the effect I'm after.

One last note...Hope, thank you for being a red head again!